Posted by: reformedmusings | May 1, 2010

Compiz Fusion after upgrade to Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 LTS

I wrote about my upgrade to Lucid 10.04 LTS from 9.10 Karmic in this post, and some follow-up tweaking in this post. I mentioned but did not elaborate on the experience with Compiz Fusion. I pretty much expected a smooth transition from Karmic to Lucid, but it didn’t exactly work out that way.

Lucid came up with my color scheme and wallpaper, but with the funky window controls on the upper left of the application title bars. Compiz wasn’t enabled probably because of my initial video issues. So, I loaded up the Applications -> System Tools -> Compiz Fusion Icon which updated nicely. If you don’t have that, you can use System -> Preferences -> CompizFusion Configuration Manager. You can find instructions on how to install them in this post, as well as how the effects generally work.

So, I right clicked on the Fusion icon, moused over Select Window Manager and clicked on Compiz. I also moused over Select Window Decorator and clicked on Emerald.

The first thing that I noticed was that all the application title bars disappeared. The cube didn’t work, nor did the desktop switching. It didn’t seem like anything worked. Very odd, but I’d seen it several Ubuntu versions ago when Compiz would forget its settings. There’s a setting in Compiz that controls that. I right-clicked on the icon and selected Settings Manager at the top to bring it up:

The Window Decorator setting on the lower left controls the title bar and window boundary eye candy. Although the settings illustrated are my current ones, the Window Decorator box was already checked. Hmmm. I took the opportunity to select all my favorites, like the Desktop Cube (Compiz will ask to disable the Desktop Wall, which is OK), 3D Windows, Rotate Cube, Trail Focus and other. I clicked Close. No change. Still no cube or window decorations.

I thought that perhaps Emerald had forgotten my usual theme, so I went to System -> Preferences -> Emerald Theme Manager. I selected my usual theme and closed out. Still nothing.

So, I finally went back to the Fusion icon and selected Reload Window Manager. That worked, but shouldn’t have been necessary. Anyway, the Window Decorations, Cube, etc. worked and somewhat strangely all my previous animations came to life. It seems that Compiz had a partial memory loss. That saved a lot of time resetting them all, though.

In my zeal, I selected the Opacify feature. With normal Trail Focus, if you mouse over a background window, the window in front of it will fade enough to read through it. This proved very handy a number of times. It enables you to read information off of the top window while typing in the background window as long as you don’t click on it. However, with Opacify, if you mouse over a background window, the foreground window virtually disappears after about a second. That makes it easy to read the back window, but you can’t read anything on the foreground window. Not a big deal for major windows, but it also works with dialogs which can be very disconcerting if your mouse isn’t over the dialog box. Now you see it, now you don’t!

I’ve tried both Emerald and GTK Window Decorator. Both put the application window controls back on the right side of the title bar. That was cool with me. However, the GTK decorator wasn’t nearly as nice as the custom Emerald themes that I’ve been using. GTK also didn’t seem to use some Compiz features like window reflection.

I’ve checked for Lucid Emerald themes that put the window controls on the left side of the title bar, but haven’t found any that I liked. I wonder what will happen when Ubuntu puts additional features on the right side of the title bar in Merry Meerkat 10.10 as Mark Shuttleworth seems intending. That will surely break every Compiz Emerald theme.

Compiz Fusion is now working fine in Lucid here. Here’s a shot at the cube with transparency, gears, 3D windows, and reflection:

And here’s one version of the desktop selector with reflection:

The wallpaper gives tribute to Stephen King’s newest novel, Under the Dome. What a great story about human nature!

The real beauty is that all these windows are live, so you can see new windows pop up on desktops as well as changes in existing windows. That includes playing videos. Compiz-Fusion has come an amazing way over the years and added real function in addition to eye candy to Ubuntu and other distributions. I’ve come to think of Compiz as integral to Ubuntu.

UPDATE (5/9/10): I’ve found out that Compiz no longer supports Emerald Window Decorator. See this post.



  1. Thank you for the warning. I was thinking about trying out Emerald but I’m just about used to the buttons being on the left. 🙂

  2. I forgot to click “notify me” on the other post. WordPress is great but not perfect.

  3. Getting used to left buttons already? I’m still enjoying them on the right, but I know that my days are numbered… 🙂

    I’m finding that Emerald still looks great, but seems less stable. The settings sometimes don’t come up on a reboot w/o reloading the window manager. Still toying with that.

    Hopefully some good Emerald themes come soon for the new Lucid setup. But at this point, even the GTK themes put the controls on the right.

  4. I read about ways to move the buttons back to the right side, but decided to try the new arrangement. I have to admit, the next time I did something on my daughter’s Windows box, I automatically looked to the left. Oops!

    I hope that either Emerald themes will come out for the new setup, or the new setup will be dropped.

  5. Long-standing habits are indeed hard to break. It will be a challenge going from home to work and back here.

    I think that Shuttleworth’s ego and pride are attached to the change in a big way. I doubt that the setup will be dropped, and I hope that it proves worthwhile with the new capabilities on the right side.

  6. I hope so, too. I haven’t heard so much yet about what is planned, but I’m looking forward to it.

  7. GNOME Shell Screencast 2010…

    I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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